Sunday, December 16, 2012

Spiritual Sunday - time to step up my game

I may have mentioned before about the cool experience I have of working with the Young Women in my ward (church congregation).  The organization consists of young women between the ages of 12 - 18.  I work specifically with the 14 and 15 year olds, but based on the numbers in our ward, oftentimes we combine with the older girls.  It's been one of my all time favorite callings (job/responsibility) and I absolutely love it.

I have heard a few minor mentions of a change in the teaching curriculum that was being put in place starting 2013, but today I got the full scoop.

Can I just say - WOW.

We had a quick training session today.  I was a little late (chatty cathy) so I missed the first few minutes but I've been studying the material that they handed out.  I am beyond excited about the change!

In the past we were given lesson manuals and a lesson schedule.  Everyone followed the same lesson plan and taught the same lessons.  Of course across the world, each teacher would have their own style, and emphasis on what was taught, but it was all basically the same lesson.

No more.  

Instead, we are directed, instructed and trusted to teach more "in the Savior's way".   We are going to be given a Unit with some outlines that go along with it.  From there, we as teachers, are to prayerfully prepare discussion and gospel learning environments based on the needs of the individual youth in our care.

That makes so much sense to me!  Jesus didn't carry around a lesson manual.  He walked amongst the people, knew who they were, counseled them, served them, asked thought provoking questions and taught principles based on the gathering at the time.  He didn't get to a spot along the seashore or atop a mountain and say, "Wait a second....we aren't gonna discuss the Holy Ghost right now, because my manual says we need to talk about the Temple".  Nope.  He didn't teach that way.  And now, in my church, neither am I.  Not that we necessarily did that, but you get the point right?

I've been in the YW program as a leader for several years and so have used the same 4 manuals several times.  It's gotten to the point where I could flip it open, read through the lesson and then be "ready".  I could look at it, remember the upteen other times I had taught it, and then just go on.  Of course, each time would be different in some way but I wasn't putting the same amount of effort that I did when I was teaching Gospel Doctrine and felt more pressure.

No more.
I gotta step up my game, and I couldn't be more excited and ready for it!  

It's interesting that when my church announced the lowering the age for serving missions for our youth, I immediately thought "something big is coming".  Before a young man or woman serves a mission they attend the Temple and receive their own endowment.  There is immense power within that endowment.  It was brought to my attention, "think of all the more young people what are now armed with the power of the endowment going out into the world".  I have been stuck on that thought for quite some time and again the nagging feeling of "something big is coming".

Today's instruction of the new teaching guidelines for our youth, I immediately recognized it as part of the "something big".  And as a leader and teacher associated with this, it is a humbling and inspiring blessing.

Step up my game.  I've been good at getting involved in my girl's lives.  I text them all randomly, seek them out when I can and try to spend time with them outside of Sunday's and our weekday activities.  I have the "loving them" part down.  That comes easy to me.  Now, the teaching of the doctrine.  No more skimming the lesson on Saturday night.  No more Sunday morning, grab a few items to add to it and head out the door.  I find teaching easy so leading a discussion doesn't seem daunting.  The biggest thing I have to do?

Make my self better.  Creating a lesson or gospel discussion based on the needs of the particular girls in the classroom will only come by the Spirit.  It will only come after prayer, study, more prayer and a lot of listening to the Spirit for direction.  That doesn't just come to someone.  It takes work, effort and worthiness.

I gotta step up my game.  Clearly, the Lord has big plans for our youth.  I think we've all known that all along, but this is clear proof to me.  He needs them converted to the gospel and He needs them converted now.  They weren't saved for the last days because they were the weakest, He saved them for the last because they are the fighters.  They are the ones with the strength, testimonies and valiancy to withstand the battles of today.  They are "old souls" that need to be reminded of the truths they knew before they were born and then the self confidence and strength to be leaders of those truths.  This new teaching curriculum screams "raising the bar".

I gotta keep up.  Now is not the time to allow for any slacking on my part.  If I am blessed enough to be able to work with the youth, then I need to prove my worthiness for that privilege.  If I am trusted to be an example and a leader for these incredible young people, than I cannot be found lacking.  

Does that mean I have to employ serious and drastic changes to my lifestyle?  Of course not, I'm not a complete heathen.  Instead it means a little more time spent on things of greater value.  Time for more spiritual reflection and study. Time for more prayer on behalf of my girls.  I feel a great responsibility on my shoulders.  And it may seem odd to some, but I like it.  I love a challenge.  I love change.  I love any opportunity to better myself as a human being and particular as a daughter of God.

Stepping up my game kids! Wish me luck, and even better, feel free to come play with me.


LL said...

Do you know what this means? You're not going to be able to throw a lesson together between the beginning of the closing song in Sacrament Meeting and the benediction...

Jamie said...

I am vety excited about this too. Especially as my first child enters these crucial years.

Natalie said...

I am beyond excited about these changes! It will stretch us as leaders but the payoff will be worth it!

tammy said...


We had heard about the coming changes before last General Conference, so when they made the announcement of lowering the missionary age, it all made more sense. Taylor and all the priests were just given a copy a few weeks ago of Preach My Gospel. Cool, but wow at 16! I really feel that these youth are going to have to be stronger and better prepared than any other generation. I also feel that they can do it. They were meant to be born at this time. I'm amazed at the love and the concern the YW/YM leaders in our ward have, and I know you're the same way.

karen said...

You'll do great - you seem like you'd be a natural with the Young Women - especially with some prayerful help. Good luck - it's a great new year's resolution.

Kristin Klein said...

Norm and I teach the 17/18 year old Sunday School class and are so excited about the new changes . . . it will be wonderful to teach to the students based upon their needs and desire to learn gospel principles - hurray for the new curriculum!


Pedaling said...

love your perspective and way to communicate the positives of the change.
I feel it too!
Did you know they just put me in as camp director (while still keeping the other calling, I've grown to love)
crazy- anyway- I love this post and will be looking at your great example as a youth leader!

oh, and i know you know this already- but that dang heathan part of us all aka natural man--it seems to diminish as we step up our game.
just saying--but melissa will always be melissa, no doubt about that!

namaste said...

that's excellent! i'd have loved to have a teacher like you when i was a teen. a post like this can have a beautiful dominoe effect. i'm trying to raise the bar in my life as well. good luck, m! :)

wendy said...

wow...that is really interesting. I didn't know how the "program" for the youth had changed.
You'll do Grrrrreat.
I am sure those girls just adore you.

{Mo} said...

I'm excited to see how these changes play out. Derrick will be the secretary in the YM 's pres. That will be sustained in the next week or so and is excited to have a front row seat for this exciting ride!

Sue said...

Those lucky young women who have you as a leader and teacher. You will be great.